Following my heart bypass, I was sent home with my heart shaped pillow to recuperate. It was explained to me that by using a walking regimen, my strength would slowly return, but no one prepared me for the emotional tsunami, which would suddenly sweep over my whole body causing me to begin crying like a small baby! I did not have any control over my emotions! I would just begin crying. Wow! What a helpless feeling. Once while watching the Fourth of July celebration on television, the Boston Pops orchestra began playing the 1812 Overture, and I happened to look over at my daughter and suddenly here came the flood of tears! I am sure I filled several large buckets full of the briny liquid. I was truly an emotional wreck!
I learned during my rehab, that emotion follows such a crisis as heart bypass, because of the closeness of death. That is correct, I was near death! This certainly applies to other situations from which extreme terror existed such as auto wrecks or battlefield experiences. Really, I had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which is prevalent today in the thousands of troops coming from Iraq or Afghanistan.
With the rehabilitation came the counseling I needed to understand what was happening to my body. I learned, with the proper help, I would stop crying and get back to my normal ways. I did stop crying and did begin to get over my emotional agony, but unfortunately, many do not get the necessary treatment and continue to agonize for months or even years.
The next encounter of strangeness resulting from my surgery began happening shortly after my arrival home. I could not stop concentrating on my chest, and more specifically my heart. I could not rest! When I laid down, my whole being began focusing on my heart. My mind began asking the question, “Would my heart stop beating?” I could not sleep. Although I received counseling for this dilemma, my “heart focusing” continued for about seven months. Not much sleep took place during this time. I would just lie there until I had enough, then get up and watch television.
From this “heart focusing”, I now cannot sleep much at night. I go to bed, sometimes falling to sleep quickly, but getting up after an hour, or not being able to gain sleep. I am up many times during the night watching television or working on our computer. From tremendous emotional stress comes sleeplessness. I cannot remember the last time I slept through the night. I still keep the hope alive for a night’s sleep.
Going through this life’s trauma, I have gained some fascinating knowledge I hope will help others who follow this path. The first idea I discovered was to write down the amazing thoughts storming into my brain. Yes, write your new ideas down! I have finally figured out that these thoughts and ideas are wisdom, from which I have gotten some of the best ideas for jobs, home repairs, and others tasks. From my heart by pass trauma, has come untold wisdom I did not possess. The trauma has expanded my mind! I know this sounds like ideas Timothy O’Leary espoused about LSD way back in the 1960’s, but life’s meaning has totally been expanded!
The other bit of knowledge is realizing your own mortality. I realize everyone has this discovery, but by being shocked into the reality of dying zings your mind into an awesome, crystal clear vision of what is truly important in life. I understood what the Scriptures were speaking of how I should not worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself. I concentrate on today! Stop planning what you will do in the future…The future may not happen. I now appreciate today…I live in the present. Is this hard to do with others fretting about tomorrow? No, because I have seen the future!